By Drew Farmer
Cavaliers at Wizards 11/21/14
It took over five decades, but the city of Cleveland finally has a champion. LeBron James finally did the impossible on Sunday night, as the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in game 7 of the NBA Finals.
On the brink of elimination and failing at the last hurdle for the second consecutive year, James hauled the Cavs back to life. Down three games to one in game 5 of the best of seven series, James put the Cavs on his back. The guard sank 41 points as Cleveland forced a game 6. Again, with their backs against the wall, James scored 41 points, lifting both his teammates and the city of Cleveland. Although game 7 didn’t see the same scoring output, James excelled once again, dropping 27 points on the Warriors as the Cavs lifted their first ever NBA title.
The prodigal son returns
James, who has been in the NBA for 13 years, had been waning as the league’s top player. It has been three years since he was last voted the league’s Most Valuable Player; and it looked as though Golden State star Stephen Curry was the new face of the NBA. James’ performances in the finals, especially in games 5, 6 and 7, proved he is still the main man in the NBA. And, any thought of Curry becoming his successor has the NBA’s top dog were premature.
Despite finally brining the NBA title to Cleveland, James had regularly failed to get Cleveland over the line in the league’s finals. James’ first taste of the NBA Finals came in 2007 when he carried the Cavs to the league’s showpiece series against the San Antonio Spurs. However, the Cavs were undermanned, and beaten in four straight games against the mighty Texans.
It took James four years to get back to the finals, yet he had to leave Cleveland to get there. James had joined the Miami Heat in 2010 as a free agent, and immediately helped a star-studded team to make it the finals. However, the Heat ran up against a strong Dallas Mavericks squad, with many feeling James failed to produce when it mattered, and the Mavs took the title in six games.
Finally, in 2012 James and the Heat picked up their first NBA title by defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder. James did one better by leading the Heat to a second straight championship in 2013 by beating the Spurs.
The prodigal son returned to Cleveland in 2015 as James re-signed with the Cavs. He made good on his homecoming by leading the Cavs back to the finals, but again lost, this time to Curry and the Warriors.
First championship in five decades
As the Cavs had their backs to the wall against the Warriors in this year’s final, down three games to one, it once more looked like James would be the nearly man with Cleveland. Yet, the team’s resurrection at the hands of James prove his greatness on NBA courts.
Michael Jordan, so long considered the greatest basketball player of all-time, is now being considered second best to James. The Cavs’ guard has now won three NBA titles, two with Miami and one with Cleveland, but he has the opportunity to add further to his CV.
James may never equal Jordan’s six NBA titles record, though he has had the chance to do so. But it is the quality and skill he delivers on a nightly basis that brings the best out in himself and his teammates. Regardless of championships, James has sealed his legend status, and can still build on the reputation he has established. Perhaps James will never reach six NBA titles, but he has eclipsed the great Jordan, and help off Curry, the youngster gunning to take his throne as king of the NBA.